Thursday, September 29, 2022
First Reviews 2022 Ford Maverick First Drive: The Little Pickup That Can

2022 Ford Maverick First Drive: The Little Pickup That Can

Ford's Maverick is the small truck that we needed

2022 Ford Maverick Pros

  • Full-size bed utility
  • Impressive fuel economy
  • Car-Like Drive

2022 Ford Maverick Cons

  • No AWD with Hybrid
  • No Navigation
  • Good Luck Finding One

For years, we’ve been told that there’s no market in Canada or the U.S. for a truly compact truck. Suddenly, both Hyundai and Ford are offering exactly that product. Hyundai’s is more of a lifestyle vehicle, much like the larger Ridgeline. But Ford insists that the Maverick is as much a pickup truck as its big sibling, the sales behemoth F-Series. We headed to Vancouver Island to find out if the Ford Maverick was up to the truck task.

This Little Truck Does Big Things

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Evan Williams

No, it can’t tow as much as a Ford F-150. That’s not the point. It can, however, tow up to 4,000 lbs when equipped with the 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder and the 4k tow pack. More impressively for this Bronco Sport-based unibody pickup, that tow rating is calculated and verified the same way Ford tests the rest of its truck lineup. That test includes drives up and down some of the most punishing grades in North America, in extreme heat.

It’s enough capacity for a 21-foot boat, Ford says. We towed a 2,900-pound single-axle Airstream camper on a short stretch of winding and hilly back roads. Even with the trailer brake not functioning – the tow pack comes with an integrated brake controller but we didn’t have a chance to troubleshoot – the Ford Maverick had no trouble getting stopped, trouble getting it moving, and there was no hint of the tail wagging the dog.

Ford didn’t make a hybrid truck available for a towing test, but that front driver can tow up to 2,000 lbs. That’s about enough for a small utility trailer, so if you tow, you’re going to want the EcoBoost and 4K Tow Package.

For our payload test, Ford loaded about 10 sheets of plywood into the box. The weight was only 500 lbs, but the point wasn’t to show how much weight it could hold. Rather, Ford wanted us to see that a 4×8-sheet would fit in the 4.5-foot box, resting on the tailgate when it’s set to a 45-degree angle.

Smaller Box Gives You Bigger Function

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Evan Williams

The box is large enough for a nap, if you don’t mind laying diagonally. It’s also low, with far more owners able to reach in than on any mid or full-size truck. Six tie-down spots are standard, there is a household power outlet and LED light, and Ford has left some plug pigtails so you can integrate your own electrical accessories.

With about 500 lbs of passengers and luggage, plus that plywood, we couldn’t tell a difference in the ride. The little truck wasn’t dragging tail, and the suspension didn’t bottom out over dips and bumps.

It’s not really a surprise, though. The 2022 Maverick can handle 1,500 lbs payload with either engine. The figure is only 260 lbs shy of some F-150 trims and comes within a bag of cement of at least one current three-quarter-ton truck.

Impressive Fuel Economy

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Evan Williams

Payload and towing are important in any pickup, but in one that’s a foot shorter than a Ranger, fuel economy is probably more important. Enter the 2.5L hybrid system that uses that four-cylinder engine paired with a 94 kW electric motor. Total system output is 191 hp and 155 lb-ft. It’s rated at 5.6 L/100 km city, 7.1 highway, and we saw a compact car-beating 5.9 after some seriously mountainous highway driving.

It’s not a quiet engine, but this is a pickup, so we’ll allow it. The engine spends a lot of time not running, thanks to the hybrid driveline that will let you run gas-free in more situations than we expected. It’s also quick despite the low torque figure.

The 2.0L EcoBoost makes 250 hp and has 277 lb-ft of torque. With an eight-speed automatic and AWD (US buyers can get a front-drive 2.0T, Canada is AWD-only), the estimated rating is 10.7 city, 8.1 highway. We saw mid 8’s.

Feels Crossover, Not Truck

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Evan Williams

Opting for the turbo engine makes the 2022 Ford Maverick quick, with a transmission fast to downshift and that can hold gears. Making up for a lack of paddles or any other way to manually select a gear. It’s also more refined than the hybrid’s engine. Credit the eight-speed for that, because it won’t let the engine drone like the hybrid will.

Pacific Marine Road from Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew is a road that would be perfect for sports cars if it wasn’t filled with heavyweight logging trucks adding dips and divots to the pavement. Following behind a current-generation F-150 work truck and another Maverick was a perfect illustration of the differences in ride quality between a body-on-frame truck and this one.

While the F-150 bounced and bucked, the Maverick was planted and poised. Maverick was being driven comfortably while the F-150 was living on the work truck razor’s edge. Driving down the road, you might as well be in an Escape, this is the closest you’ll find to “car-like” without getting into an actual car.

Small Footprint, Big Cabin

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Evan Williams

It’s a small truck, but Maverick still gets a large cabin. Loads of headroom front and rear, almost enough knee space for this six-foot-three driver to sit behind himself. Unless all of your passengers are this large, this truck should fit you fine.

The 2022 Maverick comes with just one infotainment screen. No matter the trim, it’s 8.0-inches, and it has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It doesn’t have navigation, no matter the trim. We don’t think many will miss it, though Ford’s choice of a route with multiple hours without cell service (something we didn’t think was possible) made us miss built-in maps.

Clever interior design including exposed screws as fancy trim and door slots designed to clip a water bottle in place make the Maverick even more useful. Much of that door trim (and dash trim) is a new plastic that is made from recycled materials. Ford has added small attachment sites that let owners 3D print their own accessories, as well, including a rear seat cup holder that the automaker put in each test truck (Ford’s included one is in the armrest).

Automatic emergency braking is standard, along with automatic high beams. Blind spot warning, lane keeping, and adaptive cruise are all available options. Ford has a clever detail in the adaptive cruise, where the icon for the vehicle in front of you is a Ford F-150 Raptor. A bit of aspirational imagery?

Compact Pricing

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Evan Williams

In the U.S., the 2022 Ford Maverick starts from $19,995. Canadian buyers are looking at $27,750, both for a hybrid in XL trim. Adding the EcoBoost in the U.S. is $1,085, with the 2.0T and AWD $3,305. AWD and the 2.0T for Canada is $1,600. The yellow truck in the photos, the one we drove on day 2, was loaded up with almost everything and came it at $44,150 before destination. Spec the same truck in the U.S. and it’s $35,605.

It’s hard to look at those sticker prices, and the price of a mid or full-size truck and not call them a bargain.

Buyers are clearly loving what Ford has done here. Ford Canada told us that the Maverick had been sold out for model year 2022 for months, making it tough to find even by current market standards. The 2023 model year opens for orders in September, with production starting soon after.

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